12 Types of Salt and How to Choose the Best Salt for Your Health

Blog Nutrition & Recipes 12 Types of Salt and How to Choose the Best Salt for Your Health

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7.3.2023 0 comments

Salt is a dietary component of pretty much every person around the world.

Whether it’s added into the food during the cooking process, sprinkled as a seasoning on our dishes, used as a body scrub, or added as a preservative into foodstuffs, it’s a significant component in every aspect of our daily life—both our eating habits and our daily health habits.

But how much do you know about salt, really?

If you’re like the average person, you’ve probably just reached for whatever salt is in the shaker on your table or in your kitchen and used it without giving it a second thought.

Time to change all that! Below, we’ll take you on a journey through all the various forms of salt available to you today, and show you that though the differences may not be huge, they are significant enough to know about.

A Quick Warning About Salt

The modern diet often contains too much salt and sodium (a preservative) both. In order to be healthy, it’s recommended by the WHO [1] to limit your salt intake to around 5 grams per day. That’s a little under 1 teaspoon of salt IN AN ENTIRE DAY.

Easier said than done, I know. But being aware of the dangers of excessive salt consumption—including a higher risk of stroke, high blood pressure, and heart disease [2]—is just the first step. You’ve got to actively try to reduce your salt intake by cooking with less salt and fewer sodium-rich ingredients.

And be aware that salt in skincare products (particularly exfoliating scrubs) can be potentially harmful. Salt grains are very coarse and can create micro-tears [3] that can negatively impact your skin.

But don’t worry: if used in moderation (both in terms of salt intake in your diet and applied to your skin via your skincare products), you should have nothing to worry about.

The 12 Types of Salt You Need to Know About

Table Salt

Table salt, aka “iodized salt”, is the most common form of salt around.

It’s salt that has been mined from salt deposits, refined and processed to remove all other minerals, then had iodine added in order to combat iodine deficiencies (which is surprisingly common, according to the NIH [4]).

The small crystal size of table salt gives it a more intense flavor, which is why it’s so commonly used for sprinkling on your food at the table (hence its name) or seasoning your food during the cooking and baking process.

However, it’s also believed to be behind many of the modern sodium-related health issues [5], which is why many low-sodium advocates recommend switching out your table salt for a larger-grained, less potent form of salt.

Kosher Salt

Kosher salt, like table salt, is mined from salt deposits, but it’s processed into much larger grains than table salt. These larger grains are ideal for the koshering process (extracting the blood from meat using salt).

However, they also contain significantly less sodium per serving—anywhere from 20 to 50% less.

It’s commonly utilized by chefs as well as Kosher butchers, because it has a cleaner flavor than table salt without such a powerful salty punch.

Himalayan Salt

Himayalan salt, also known as “Himalayan pink salt”, is a type of salt that has become highly popular in recent years thanks to both its unique color and its properties.

The color is a natural occurrence, resulting from the minerals that are found in the salt. But unlike table salt, pink salt isn’t refined to the same extent, so many of those minerals remain intact.

Himayalan pink salt contains roughly the same sodium content as table salt, but the large grains are eye-catching and often used for decorating dishes.

It’s also a popular addition into skincare products, including moisturizers, lotions, and exfoliants. Though there is little research to single out pink salt specifically as being more effective than any other salt, experts [6] believe that using salt to wash or treat your skin can remove dead skin cells, reduce toxins and dirt, prevent the build-up of skin oils, and leave your skin brighter and smoother.

Sea Salt

Sea salt is, as its name suggests, salt that has been derived from the sea. Typically, it’s formed when saltwater is left to evaporate, and the evaporated water leaves behind the naturally occurring salt crystals.

There is far less processing and refining that goes into the production of sea salt, and according to the MayoClinic [7], it may retain more of naturally occurring trace minerals. The minerals not only enrich the salt, but also add a more unique flavor that will change based on which ocean, sea, or saltwater lake the water originated.

However, be aware that sea salt contains roughly the same amount of sodium as table salt, though the flavor is less intense.

Flaked Sea Salt

Flaked sea salt is a sub-type of sea salt. It’s made almost entirely the same way, only the evaporation process is adapted slightly to encourage the salt to form not crystals, but large flakes.

Flaked sea salt is typically used as a finishing salt (added to dishes before being served), or may be used to add salt into desserts (like salted caramel or chocolate). The flakes are easier to chew and dissolve more efficiently in your mouth than large salt grains.

Rock Salt

Rock salt is essentially sea salt. It’s the same both chemically and nutritionally.

The only significant difference is its size and shape. Rock salt has already formed a rock before it is gathered, while sea salt forms into grains during the evaporation process.

Celtic Sea Salt

Celtic Sea salt, also known as gray salt, is derived from the seas off the shores of the French region of Brittany. The combination of the sand and natural clay in the region produces a mineral-rich salt that retains its moistness.

Gray salt has similar properties to pink salt and is often used in similar skincare products: creams, lotions, moisturizers, and exfoliants. However, due to the fact that it’s raked and gathered by hand, it’s more expensive and less widely available than Himalayan pink salt.

Red Salt

Red salt is a type of salt that comes specifically from the Hawaiian islands.

Its unique red color is derived from alaea, the volcanic clay unique to the islands. It’s formed when seawater gets trapped in tidal pools, and as the water evaporates, the salt crystals mix with the clay.

Red salt is believed to have the highest concentration of trace minerals, particularly iron. It’s often recommended to combat iron deficiencies.

Black Salt

Black salt also comes from the Hawaiian islands, where the black volcanic soil mixes with the evaporating water to form black crystals.

Black salt is high in activated charcoal, which is not only excellent for eradicating impurities and toxins from the body, but also improves digestion.

Note: There is another type of salt, called kala namak, that originates in India. The high sulphur content and taste of kala namak makes it a digestive aid, like Hawaiian black salt.

Fleur de Sel

Fleur de sel is derived from the same pools along the French coastline as Celtic Sea salt. However, it’s lighter and forms into flakes rather than crystals. This makes it more delicate, and it’s often utilized as a finishing salt in fine dining restaurants because of both its texture and flavor.

It’s as mineral-rich as Celtic Sea salt, and is the same gray color. It has roughly the same sodium content as table salt.

Smoked Salt

Smoke salt is basically sea salt that has been smoked at low temperature over coal beds. The smoking process doesn’t change the salt’s mineral composition, merely its flavor. Smoked salt has a light, smoky flavor (and a tan or gray color) that adds a depth of unique flavor to dishes.

Health-wise, however, it’s no different from sea salt.

Persian Blue Salt

Persian Blue salt is harvested from a salt lake in Iran. Its blue color has nothing to do with its mineral content, but instead from the compression of the salt grains that has occurred naturally over millennia.

However, what makes this salt so unique is its slight sweetness. It’s not only rich in minerals, but there is a hint of sweet taste that adds a complex flavor to whatever dish it’s included in or sprinkled on.

It’s beautiful but incredibly rare, not to mention very expensive.

Which Salt is “Best”?

At the end of the day, salt is largely the same across the board. As with every other food, the least processed the salt is, the better it is for you.

Salt is a concentrated form of sodium that both adds flavor and helps to preserve foodstuffs. It can also increase moisture retention in your skin, eliminate impurities, and scrub away dead skin cells and excess skin oils.

For your health’s sake, it’s better to use the forms of salt that are lower in sodium in order to stave off heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure. That means typically sea salt is the “best” choice of salts for a healthy diet.

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[1] https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/salt-reduction

[2] https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/salt-and-sodium/

[3] https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/wellness/exfoliate-skin-toner-scrub-dermatology/2021/04/11/2541d818-97ce-11eb-962b-78c1d8228819_story.html

[4] https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Iodine-HealthProfessional/

[5] https://explore.globalhealing.com/dangers-of-salt/

[6] https://www.healthline.com/health/washing-face-with-salt-water#potential-side-effects

[7] https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/sea-salt/faq-20058512


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